These North Texas craftspeople transform discarded materials into works of art
Some days it’s hard to remember when “sustainable design” wasn’t a part of our lexicon. We all want a piece of it. When you look beyond large-scale LEED Certified construction and recycled materials, you’ll find artisans who love to get down and dirty, salvaging items in steel yards, thrift shops, and warehouses to produce decor items that are completely different.
From artisans who create dining room tables out of bowling alley lanes to teams who reimagine uses for bicycle chains, oil drums, and car parts, these are some of North Texas’ most interesting craftsmen and their companies.
Flower Child Plants
With the goal of bringing people to nature through art and horticulture in a sustainable way, Flower Child Plants gives you the opportunity to accessorize your home with sculptural succulents in repurposed planters. Owner Cynthia Koogler sources vintage or discarded items from garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets in Texas, and driftwood from Arkansas waterways, Colorado ranches, and the deserts of New Mexico to create visually interesting décor pieces that bring the outside in. Whether you’re looking for Staghorn ferns in custom planters crafted from discarded shipping pallets or succulents nestled in an old milking bucket, Flower Child Plants specializes in botanicals with a touch of whimsy.
Staffed with a motley crew of artisans, the Deep Ellum fabrication shop makes a variety of decor items by Texans for Texans. Founded in 2012 by Ryan Chaney and Steve Mabry, the crew at 44Build travels around the state for steel, wood, and other salvaged materials to create one-of-a-kind furniture, installations, and “oddities.” They use old photographs to hash out the details classic to old Texan architecture and regularly put pencil to paper to brainstorm unique pieces that have a flavor all their own.
Looking for a creative outlet separate from her nursing career, Madlyn Lackey founded MadAntler in 2014 after a random pit stop in Stephenville, Texas. There, the idea to create a business around naturally shed antlers took hold, and she’s been in love with the craft ever since. Salvaging antlers from her family’s ranches near Christoval, Texas, Lackey puts a spin on the antler decor trend by wrapping antlers in soft flex craft wire of different colors and gauges. The outcome is a vibrant art piece perfect for mounting on the wall.
Step up to the bar at the Rahr & Sons brewery, and you’re leaning on the work of PalletSmart, a Fort Worth-based company founded by John Zaskoda and Kevin Rennels. Laid off in 2012 from his long-term gig in the corporate world, Zaskoda decided to take the time to look for other career options, and the idea for PalletSmart was born. The artisan team makes use of everything — even the pine planer shavings from the workshop goes to a horse ranch down the road for reuse — and they’ll use just about anything to create tables, chairs, bars, sculptures, and other pieces. Zaskoda’s work goes beyond the tangible aspect of PalletSmart; he inspires others to build and create things with their hands in a sustainable manner.
Revival Supply Company
Revival owner Jacob Triche loves working with his hands, and everything that comes out of the studio is crafted by hand, in-house. From romantic weathered headboards to boxcar wood tables, rustic entertainment stands and sideboards, to full wall installations of reclaimed cypress, Triche loves creating new things out of old. If you’re looking for a tiny house, he has even built a portable flat-pack house that fits in the back of a full-size truck. Talk about sustainable design.
What do a bucket of used bike parts and a pile of scrap mahogany have in common? They were the inspiration for Rachel Spire, co-owner and artist behind ReGeared. Co-owner and collaborator Lauren Lay, as well as ReGeared’s team of carpenters, finishers, and artists, source materials like barn wood, bicycle chains and rims, 55-gallon drums, oil field pipes, drill bits, shipping pallets, and myriad found objects to create unique, sustainable one-off designs. Browse their shop in the Dallas Design District this month as they celebrate their fifth anniversary and the store’s grand opening on November 14.
Journalist-turned-artist Sarah Reiss creates stunning furniture pieces that are as much works of art as they are functional. She works out of her one-woman design studio to create natural-edge tables, chevron-patterned wall installations, and artwork from salvaged materials; bowling-alley lanes, old gym flooring, and tree stumps are just some of the materials Reiss uses to craft distinctive decor pieces that grace both residential and commercial spaces across the country.
Season 2 Unlimited
Many artists dream of a sustainable income in sustainable design, but Steven Tomlin has been able to do just that, focusing on reusing materials that are close to another of his loves: wine. As co-owner of Season 2 Unlimited, Tomlin salvages wine barrels headed to landfills to build wine racks, candle holders, and more from gracefully curved barrel segments. In business for just about a year, Tomlin is excited about where Season 2 Unlimited is going. As he says, it’s awesome to build an heirloom-quality piece out of stuff destined for the landfill.
Gary Buckner, artist and owner behind Stash, likes to keep it local. His work focuses on green building and sustainable craftsmanship, whether he’s constructing pieces for residential or commercial spaces throughout Dallas-Fort Worth. Scrap metal, pallet wood, salvaged brick, wine boxes, milk crates, and rebar are just a fraction of the reclaimed materials that Buckner uses in his furniture and installations. See his work at The Foundry, Chicken Scratch, and Oddfellows, or buy some for yourself at the store on Greenville Avenue.